Development of Lao PDR – UN Cooperation Framework: a consultative process for stakeholders to voice views and participate
14 June 2021
The current Lao PDR – UN Partnership Framework 2017 – 2021 is drawing to a close. As the most important instrument for the planning and implementation of UN development activities following the reform of the UN Development System, the successor to this framework is now being developed to reflect an enhanced spirit of coordination, transparency, efficiency and impact.
Since late 2020, the UN Country Team has worked to advance its planning in close collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Planning and Investment and other line ministries on the development of the new Lao PDR-UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2022-2026 (UNSDCF).
The UNSDCF is built on three key documents: the 9th national Socio-Economic Development Plan 2021-2025, the draft UN assessment of the development situation in Lao PDR, and the recent independent evaluation of the current Lao PDR-UN Partnership Framework 2017-2021. Together, these laid the foundations for the identification of transformational development priorities, the strategies for achieving such changes, and guidance on how to work jointly with key national counterparts.
Importantly, at a meeting of the Joint Steering Committee under the joint leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in February, the decision was made to actively include stakeholders including development partners, private sector and non-governmental organizations in the development process. Through this, the UN Country Team aims to build on and further advance the broader partnerships for development cooperation in Lao PDR.
Through the series of consultations that followed, more than 150 participants representing both non-resident and resident development partners, non-governmental organisations, and private sector organisations participated have been engaged in the process.
Mr. Maythong Thammavongsa, Director-General of Department of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Head of the National SDG Secretariat highlighted: “It is important to align the Cooperation Framework with national priorities outlined in the National Social Economic Development Plan to reflect real needs of the country. I appreciate UN in Lao PDR to develop the Framework in a consultative way so all stakeholders can have a voice and actively participate in the process. I believe that inputs from the stakeholders can enrich the discussion during consultations and positively contribute to the final version of the Cooperation Framework”.
Opening the consultation series, UN Resident Coordinator to Lao PDR, Ms. Sara Sekkenes noted that “These consultations turn to consideration of programme priorities for our next Cooperation Framework. This will bring together the UN’s analysis through the Common Country Analysis and the Government’s policy priorities as set out in the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan”. The Resident Coordinator further stressed that “This is the first Lao-UN strategic planning framework to be developed since the global reform of the UN Development System, and as such there are new expectations placed on all of us to do things differently and work even more closely together. “
“This consultation process is crucial for not just the United Nations but for all of the development partners, and the U.S. Government is happy to be a part of it,” shared A. Michael Stern, Deputy Country Representative/Program Office Director of the US Agency for International Development in Lao PDR. “It has been great to witness the development partners during the coordination process, and to have a chance to provide input as we can think about our own programs and how we can align the work that we do with what the United Nations is doing across all different UN Agencies in the country.”
Being the representative for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the country to participate in the consultation, Thongdam Phongphichith, Co-Director of Global Association for People and the Environment (GAPE), was grateful for an opportunity to participate and contribute to the whole process of the Cooperation Framework. “We are happy that we can be involved in the analysis, planning, monitoring, implementation, evaluation and reporting of the Framework.” He added: “CSOs will also work to improve the effectiveness of our administrative, coordinating and collaborative mechanisms to contribute to successful implementation of the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan.”
The leader of Namjai Community Association, a local non-governmental organization that works to promote education, gender equality and the fight again violence toward children and women, Minavanh Pholsena noted the potential synergies from the consultation, as Lao CSOs were also in the process of formulating their own 5-year plan- “After participating in this meeting, CSOs are now well aware of the 5Ps of People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships to be achieved by UN in Lao PDR. We will see how we can cooperate with UN from now on, considering what we learned from this consultation of the UNSDCF”.
From the Lao Business Women’s Association, which assembles Lao female entrepreneurs and businesswomen throughout the country, Pathoumphone Phetsavong said: “From the consultation, I found a number of interesting points to share with members of Lao Businesswomen Association, especially on the guidance for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups.”
The draft Lao PDR-UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for 2022 -2026 has now been finalized and submitted to the Government of Lao PDR. A High-Level Meeting of the Government of Lao PDR and UN Joint Steering Committee is planned to be organized in mid-2021 to formally endorse the new Cooperation Framework.